Top-ranked Lady Bears to battle with Longhorns

The Lady Bears defeated Kansas 86-45 at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Travis Taylor | Lariat Photographer
The Lady Bears defeated Kansas 86-45 at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  Travis Taylor | Lariat Photographer
The Lady Bears defeated Kansas 86-45 at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photographer

By Parmida Schahhosseini
Sports Writer

The No 1. Lady Bears won the Big 12 title after losses by Oklahoma and Iowa State on Sunday, but they still need to work to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Under head coach Kim Mulkey, the Lady Bears are now 150-10 in regular season, non-conference games.

Baylor will face off against Texas at noon on Saturday in the Ferrell Center.

The Lady Bears are 25-1 on the season and are a perfect 14-0 in Big 12 play. Texas, on the other hand, is 10-15 overall with a 3-11 conference record.

Baylor will try to extend the nation’s largest home winning streak, which is currently at 53 games, with a win over Texas. Baylor also currently have the nation’s best win streak at 22 games.

Texas gave senior center Brittney Griner struggles in the first game as she scored only two points in the first half.

She blocked eight shots, so she did contribute on defense, but Griner didn’t get her first rebound until midway through the second half.

However, she did have a dunk to fire up the team.

“It gave us some energy,” Griner said. “It got us pumped up to keep making a run.”

Fortunately for Baylor, its team is more than just one person as junior guard Odyssey Sims recorded 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The guards were key in the game, forcing 15 first-half turnovers to keep Baylor in the game with the lead.

Baylor’s depth is what makes this team better than last year as freshmen contribute both offensively and defensively.

Freshman guard Niya Johnson throws crisp passes in crowded lanes.

She has had 74 assists and 20 steals to just 30 turnovers this season.

Freshman forward Alexis Prince also gives the offense some power with scoring contributions during key moments of a game. In the game against TCU, Baylor displayed its depth as the bench scored 32 points.

“I am feeling more confident,” Prince said in regard to her growth this season.

Baylor’s offense is sure to give Texas trouble as they are ranked second in the nation with an average of 81.7 points per game.

Monday against UConn, Baylor scored 76 points against the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation.

The Lady Bears are also efficient on offense with guards playing smart basketball and protecting the ball.

Baylor is ranked first in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.62. Baylor has six players shooting over 50 percent and leads the NCAA in assists at 21.8 assists per game due.

In the last 242 games, only one team shot 50 percent or better against Baylor. Griner’s 696 blocks also provide defense as it disrupts offensive rhythm and keeps the offense from scoring.

Baylor also brings pressure with its guards as it forces opposing teams to turn the ball over.

Mulkey did take Griner out last time these teams met so Baylor could get some minutes playing without her.

However, Sims and senior guard Jordan Madden played well, taking pressure off the team.

‘’When she goes out, it shows we can go on without her,’’ Sims said.

Texas does have a 6-foot-7-inch center who led the team with 13 points and 18 rebounds in the last meeting between these teams, accounting for half of the team’s rebounds.

She also disrupted Griner’s rhythm offensively by putting a big body around her.

Her physical presence gave the Lady Bears problems early on, but Baylor’s defense helped out as Texas shot 31.6 percent from the field and shot 20 percent beyond the arc.

However, a big second half allowed the score to be lopsided after being up nine points at the half.